One of the people I follow in leadership blogs is Dan Rockwell, aka Leadership Freak. His post this morning cautions against working hard versus working smart:
It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you’re working on the wrong things.
He goes on to discuss how doing business without thinking strategically can be harmful to your business and personal health. While it’s needful to get work out the door (think lawyers focusing on billable work, carpenters hammering nails), to only do so is to lose sight of the bigger, value adding activities that distinguish great businesses from ordinary ones. Your efforts are not as productive as they could be because you are displacing the benefits of your focus and inertia that could be applied to thinking about what would make you more successful and pursuing those activities that promise reward for another day–not just the current one!
Some of the activities that suffer when you are not working on your business include:
- Alliance building
When our attention is shifted to “working on the business” (thanks Michael Gerber for the E-Myth insights), we are thinking innovatively. Our efforts are building something that will stand the test of time. Net worth/business value soars as we are refining the business model instead of just trying to work harder. Think about franchise systems. The value is in the documented processes and controls. Even if you never plan to sell through a franchise agreement, you would do well to consider the genius behind the movement. Instead of being the person who only makes money off the sweat of his or her brow, you find a way to make money off others’ labors.
Rockwell suggests the following to help you get unstuck and more productive in creating a business with greater value:
- Create a weekly “working on” appointment with yourself. Identify and take a next step.
- Make small adjustments. You’ll never shift toward working on your business in one giant leap.
- Find new eyes. Discuss systems, strategies, and vision with experts outside your field.
- Listen. Many leaders and business owners have too many answers and too few questions.
- Try something. Waiting for stunning success prevents progress.
- Delegate more even if it takes longer at first.
- Follow-up and follow-through. Frustrations inspire conversations regarding improvements but follow-through changes things. Perhaps some form of accountability would help?
For entrepreneurs, mentors can be extremely valuable in holding one accountable to a process like the one commended. Going it alone, without the benefit of outside advice and counsel, makes us technicians without hope of escaping the rat race. You can change your future today–be daring to do so!